Community in resistance to the Cerro Blanco mine holding a press conference. Signs behind them read “No to the Cerro Blanco Mine: We defend the River Basin Ostúa, Guija, Lempa… For water, life, for the dignity of the people…” Photo Credits: Ruda

Written by Maria Reyes.

The Cerro Blanco mine, a project operated by the company Entremares S.A., is located in the municipality of Asunción Mita in the department of Jutiapa, just 15 kilometres from the border with El Salvador. Since 2007, the Cerro Blanco project has become a slow and certain threat to human life, vegetation, fauna, and water for communities in Guatemala and El Salvador.

The Cerro Blanco mine is marketed as the country’s second-largest gold and silver deposit. The project was greenlighted on September 22nd, 2007 by the government of then-president Oscar Berger, when the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was approved by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN). That same year, the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) issued the Construction and Operation Licenses for 25 years (2007–2032) on a 174-hectare property acquired by the project. However, by 2012, the MEM reported that the work had been temporarily “suspended” because the company allegedly preferred to wait for the international precious metal market to improve. 

The suspension of the Cerro Blanco mining project raised serious doubts.

In January 2017, Canadian company Goldcorp announced the sale of the Cerro Blanco mining project to Bluestone Resources. As it bought the mining rights granted by the state, Bluestone has not been obligated to update the environmental permits with the Guatemalan government. Since then, Bluestone has been able to position the project effectively on the stock market in Toronto, Canada.

In December 2021, communities in resistance to the project and organizations in both Guatemala and El Salvador raised the alarm that the mining company was planning to present to the MEM a proposal to reactivate the mine using the same environmental impact study they presented 14 years ago, but with a change to the operation of the mine that alarmed the communities and environmental organizations. 

This proposed change would convert the mine to an open-pit mine, which could cause an increased threat level in terms of water shortages, imbalance of thermal waters, and draining of wells. This would have a direct impact on agriculture and the health of the people who depend on these resources, as well as increasing the potential for criminalization and the disintegration of the social fabric within communities.

On January 24th, 2022 in the magazine Nueva Generación, the communities in resistance in Asunción Mita, Jutiapa, asked the mayor Francisco Guardado to call for a municipal consultation in which the will of the people would decide whether or not they want mineral extraction in the municipality. 

Read more about a meeting held between communities in Guatemala and El Salvador and the government here.

Read in Spanish here.